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RainDance to Co-Develop Next-Gen Sequencing Products for ADME Applications with Ambry and Roche

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This story was originally published March 7.

RainDance Technologies this week announced two separate deals to develop and commercialize next-gen sequencing-based products for drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion, or ADME, applications — one with Ambry Genetics and another with Roche's 454 Life Sciences division.

Under its deal with Ambry, the companies will develop a screening panel to sequence the coding regions of 220 key drug metabolism-linked genes, including transporters, receptors, regulators, all pharmacodynamic and pharmacogenetic genes, and pharmacogenomic biomarker genes cited by the US Food and Drug Administration. The panel will be provided as part of Ambry's sequencing services and will use RainDance's primer design methods and microdroplet-based RDT 1000 platform. It will be designed to run on all current next-generation sequencing systems.

The sequencing-based panel will allow scientists to "discover the novel chromosomal changes and rare variants associated with drug metabolism and molecular pharmacology," which current genotyping tools for ADME research lack, Darren Link, a co-founder and vice president of research and development at RainDance, said in a statement.

RainDance has also inked a separate deal with Roche to commercially launch an ADME gene screening research panel that will be available on both the GS FLX and the GS Junior systems. According to the companies, the product will focus on both known and unknown functional mutations associated with drug metabolism and response in a set of "core pharmacokinetic and pharmacology genes."

In this deal, the companies will develop a panel of the 36 most common ADME genes and their exons, which are "characterized by rare variants in genetically diverse loci, high phenotypic variation, and ethnicity-specific differences," RainDance's product manager of targeted sequencing James Brayer told In Sequence in an e-mail. Additionally, the panel will offer 100 percent design coverage of those genes.

While both panels are for research purposes only, "it is conceivable that research based on use of the panels could eventually lead to diagnostic tests or clinically actionable data," Brayer said. However, the customers using the panels would be responsible for gaining the necessary regulatory approval and commercializing the products.

Current products that study adverse drug response typically rely on genotyping of common alleles, so are not as sensitive as sequencing technology, and they also cannot identify previously unknown variants.

"For the first time, researchers can look beyond the mutations found on current genotyping panels and discover novel chromosomal changes and rare mutations associated with drug metabolism and adverse drug events," Roopom Banerjee, president and CEO of RainDance, said in a statement.

Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

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